In Scotland, we currently consume as if we had three planets available to produce the resources we use and absorb the waste we create.

Scotland’s material consumption accounts for 82% of our entire carbon footprint.

Moving to a circular economy – one in which materials are kept in circulation for as long as possible, will reduce our material demands and is key to meeting our climate commitments.

In order to move towards a circular economy, major changes to the way we make products and consume resources will need to be made, bringing economic opportunities and innovation.

Consuming the planet

Over-consumption by the wealthy few is pushing our whole planet to breaking point. Rich-nation economies like Scotland are built on the idea of unlimited growth, forcing consumption levels that are driving the climate crisis.

We need our leaders to make decisions on the basis that consumption must have limits, so that we can play a vital role in the road to social and environmental justice.

A better economy

Research has shown it is possible to live a high quality life on a sustainable level of material consumption of about eight tonnes per person per year. Scotland’s material footprint is currently more than double this figure.

Keeping materials circulating in our economy for as long as possible would reduce the burden on the countries where materials are sourced, often through dangerous practises, and reduce the waste that is disposed of with harmful processes like incineration.

What we are doing

  • Putting pressure on the Scottish Government to include robust carbon footprint and material reduction targets in the Circular Economy Bill
  • Building public awareness and understanding of the need for a circular economy
  • Influencing decision makers to stop harmful waste disposal practices
  • Engaging communities in the fight against new incinerators in their area.

Scotland has the materials, skills and demand to make this circular narrative a reality. We need a government willing to take bold steps towards a circular economy.

Kim Pratt, Circular Economy Campaigner

Recent successes

  • The Scottish Government has put a moratorium on new incinerators and is conducting a review into the future of these polluting installations
  • A bottle deposit return scheme for Scotland will be implemented next year with the potential to significantly reduce our amount of waste
  • The Scottish Government has banned a range of single-use plastic items, including plastic cutlery, plates, straws and expanded polystyrene food containers and cups.